Professional Development: YOU in Charge

As an educator and teacher trainer, I always suffer from FOMO (Fear of Missing Out).  I’m sure we all do in a way or the other, when we say how fast our kids grow, how short time is compared to all we have to do, how much we have to learn with so much on our plates…

IMG_0723Some people ask me how I manage to keep up with what is out there. Of course, I don’t. My strategy? I make choices. I decide what are the things I want to focus on, which media I’ll give special attention, who I want to be listening to. Upon making these decisions I’m funneling my attention spectrum to bits that I find manageable in detriment to everything that is out there. And that’s the main point of my own PD. I humanly can’t be in the loop of all, everything. The word of the day should be one, or at least, some. By doing that, even if we have recurrent FOMO, we can really put into perspective what is manageable within our time frame.

So, how do I do it? First, you need to decide what your main principles, beliefs and ideals are. In my case:

– My family and friends are my top priority, so time spent with them is time gained. In the past, I had a hard time balancing my work life, professional and personal passions and family life. Now, I’ve got things into perspective, so rarely do I make to one of the PD and connective moments I love, being part of Vance Stevens‘ Sunday Learning2gether Webcasts. I used to be more with the Webheads on Sundays, but I made a decision that Sunday is really time to relax and enjoy family and friends.

I only share what I’ve read, listened to, or, at least, know the source of a certain reference. So, I really don’t like automatized syndicated systems. I can only reference something to my network if it is of value. Otherwise, you’re just adding noise to a very noisy digital medium. I remember once I felt grateful for a person in my Twitter network that shared everything I posted just to realize after a while that she had just used a platform to retweet every time I posted on my blog without even reading it.

I’ve been more wisely balancing my social media spheres for different purposes. If I am on FB, I might eventually share some photos, but my heaviest photo sharing is really on Instagram and Flickr. They are the right place for that. My Twitter is professional-based, so I heavily focus on content related to education, Ed Tech and the like.

And how about the choices for my own professional development? Here’s how I make some decisions:

Every semester/year, I have a specific learning goal in my area. Recently, I’ve been zooming in gamification and the possibilities for engagement, motivation and learning. Within this same framework, I’ve been reading and watching videos related to the “new culture of learning”.

My social media focus is back on Twitter, where I get micro doses of PD every single day. I’ve written about it and how I keep abreast of the latest trends in Education and more specifically in Ed Tech through conference hashtags on Twitter.

I choose some people in my network to follow more closely. Of course, I’m still getting tons of parallel insights from many, but two have been on my radar recently, and they’ve been totally expanding my horizon in so many different ways, Doug Belshaw with his insights about openness, digital literacies and his weekly posts on “what he has learned” every week. His transparent way of showing his learning process is truly inspiring. I learn tons with him. Another person that has been on my professional radar, John Seely Brown. Why? He is a visionary, humanist and terribly smart! I’m always trying to pick up his brains and learn from what he has to say. I’ve been watching his videos and reading a fascinating book called “A New Culture of Learning: cultivating the imagination for a world of constant change“. If you want to have a glimpse of what I’m talking about, check this short video with him:

So, how you can work on your professional development effectiveness? Forget FOMO. Too much paralyzes us.

Focus on a goal within a time frame, choose a social media platform, and decide for the people you want to get your inspiration from. Get past FOMO and go for FOSB (Focus on Small Bits)!

And a small secret? I use Feedly for daily updates on my favorite blogs and sites! It makes all the difference. Remember that PD should be about perspective, structure and connections.

3 Comments

  1. Hugo April 23, 2014 at 10:17 #

    Excellent share Carla, you are truly an inspiration. Well done and keep up the good shares!

    • Carla Arena April 24, 2014 at 10:18 #

      Thanks, Hugo! Glad you liked it. I’ll try to live up to your high expectations!

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